Food trucks and concerts: Prinsjesdag to get populist overhaul

The king helps Maxima leave the coach in 2014. Photo: Rijksoverheid/Bas Arps

Prinsjesdag, the tradition-laden state opening of the parliamentary year is to get a facelift after declining crowds and an increase in protests directed at the royals, forces officials to rethink their approach.

Every year the king and queen drive through The Hague in a horse-drawn carriage, on their way to perform the opening ceremony. And on their return to their Noordeinde palace, they stand on the balcony for a few minutes and wave at the crowds.

But fewer people have been showing up to watch the procession and the royals have had to face jeers and demonstrations, particularly during the coronavirus era.

Now, officials from the royal household, the upper and lower chambers of parliament, and the government are putting together a new plan to boost the public’s involvement in Prinsjesdag, documents which have been leaked to broadcaster NOS show.

Some of the traditional elements, such as the procession of four coaches, the king’s reading of a speech outlining government policy, and the “balcony scene” will be retained. But new elements will be added in, including some sort of walk-about by the royals to meet the public, NOS said.

One suggestion is a public concert on the square next to the parliamentary complex which should be similar in atmosphere to the events hosted by popular classical music conductor André Rieu in Maastricht.

Other ideas include encouraging everyone to wear a hat, a performance by an artist who is popular with the young, open days at the various palaces and other royal buildings in The Hague, and a food truck festival.

The first changes should be visible on September 17 when the next Prinsjesdag takes place, but it is unclear as yet what they are likely to be.

The government’s spending plans for the following year are always presented on the third Tuesday in September.

Public support

According to research published last November, 50% of the general population support the monarchy but 26% would like the Netherlands to become a republic. 

Among the under 35s, almost four in 10 support the monarchy but 34% consider themselves republicans. Eleven years ago, when Willem-Alexander was sworn in as king, 80% of the population backed the monarchy.

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